NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) – In a draft of the New Kensington-Arnold School District’s health and safety plan, the district says they are planning to reopen and bring back all students and staff in the fall with safety guidelines in place.

The district is planning to send the plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

In the plan, they include social distancing and face-covering requirements for everyone. They are also providing families the option to opt-out of having their children return to school for health and safety concerns and take classes remotely instead.

The district sent a digital survey to families to get their thoughts about having students return to the classroom.

They also have said they are planning to follow all of the local and state guidelines.

“I think it’s too early. I think they mean well, it’s just gonna be another outbreak, it’s gonna be with our children,” said Georgean Ware, who lives in New Kensington.

Ware said she doesn’t think holding in-person classes is the best option. She says the guidelines will be tough for kids to follow in class.

“There’s no way they can social distance those kids, keep masks on them from kindergarten up,” she told KDKA’s Lisa Washington.

Calling it a catch-22, she also worries about resources available to students whose parents choose distance learning.

“If there’s not a teacher there to explain, and doing messenger is not explaining to a child, they need one-on-one,” Ware said.

Westmoreland County is currently in the green phase of reopening but the plan notes that if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, in-person classes would be stopped and the district would switch to distance learning.

The district’s first day of class is scheduled for Aug. 31.

One person who will not be returning this fall is the district’s superintendent Dr. John Pallone.

Photo Credit: KDKA

The former state representative has been the superintendent since 2012.

It is not clear why he is resigning and he said it was not his intent to resign nor did he have any strong feelings toward leaving.

However, he did say that circumstances have made it clear the decision is timely.

His resignation is effective this Friday.

Lisa Washington